It would be hard to overstate the influence and impact of the late great novelist Donald Westlake, who wrote many great books under both the Westlake name as well as at Richard Stark, in addition to other pen names. Westlake was one of only two authors to win an Edgar Award in three different categories. He was named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America in 1993.
I was lucky enough to interview him in 2007 and thank him for his many great books, as well as ask him about all his pen names and why he used them.
After Westlake died in December 2008 one other book came out and it was believed that that was all there was to be published. Wrong. I'll explain about that in a minute.
I recently received this press release from Hard Case Crime: "We're just one week away from the pub date for the much-anticipated Donald E. Westlake novel The Comedy is Finished.
"This is the never-before-published lost Westlake novel and the first new Westlake since 2010's Memory, and most likely the last new Westlake we'll ever have the pleasure of reading.
"It's a book I know a lot of people will be interested in, and we appreciate anything you might do to let people know about it."
My response? You have to ask? I asked for a copy of The Comedy Is Finished and was offered a chance to interview Editor Charles Ardai. I was also given permission to include an excerpt of the book, which will follow this interview.
The book is typical Westlake — tight plotting, funny adventures, as plans by a group of criminals who kidnap a famous TV comedy personality go awry. It is dated — you can tell that it was written in the 1970s from some of the comments about women and from some plot twists — but it's easy to get past that. This is not Westlake's best book but it is a fun, enjoyable read. And now my interview with Charles.